Interracial Adoption: 5 Questions To Consider
Are you thinking about adopting a child outside of your race? You’re not alone. Studies show that 44% of adopted children in the US are being cared for by adopted parents of different ethnicity or race. However, just because it is common doesn’t mean it comes without struggle. Parents that adopt a child from a different race, ethnic group, or culture need to deepen their understanding of their child’s race, ethnic group, or culture to help them explore their own identity. It requires a commitment to learning, embracing, and loving your adopted child’s background prior to placement and throughout raising them. Before deciding that interracial adoption is right for your family, consider these 5 questions:
1. Is your neighborhood multicultural?
And not just your neighborhood, but your community, town, and city. Look at the people you interact with on a day-to-day basis—when you’re walking down the street, getting a cup of coffee, talking to neighbors, etc. If your child is raised in a community that looks 90% like you and is much different than their culture, it’s difficult for them to find their own identity. That’s not to say you can’t adopt if you live somewhere that’s predominantly one race, but you’ll need to put in some extra effort to embrace your child’s race and culture.
2. Do your friends look like you?
Many transracial adoptees feel like they don’t fit in anywhere, especially when they leave home for college. That’s why they need to be comfortable around other cultures and people that look like them when they are growing up. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go out and find friends within their same culture. Your child can experience different cultures through travel, joining community groups, sports, etc. Simply getting outside of your comfort zone and putting yourself in a position of learning other cultures’ foods, customs, interests, relationship dynamics, and language will help create a safe environment for your child.
3. Do you know different cultures?
Not just different cultures within the U.S. but around the globe, especially if you’re planning on doing an international adoption. It’s difficult to understand how people in other countries live without experiencing the smells, tasting the food, interacting with the people, and immersing yourself within the culture. It helps you see that, yes, people live differently, but that’s okay. By fostering multiculturalism and embracing your child’s complex cultural identity, you will help your child feel more comfortable in their own skin and lessen the impacts of transracial adoption. You can achieve this by having dinner conversations that include relevant cultural topics or even celebrating multicultural holidays.
4. Is your family open to different cultures?
This encompasses your parents, grandparents, siblings, and aunts and uncles. Just because your friends and others your age love other cultures doesn’t mean your family members are as open-minded. If your mother or sibling is making comments or treating your interracial adopted child in an inappropriate way, you’re going to have to sit down with them and have heart-to-heart, difficult conversations.
5. How will you tackle identity issues?
It’s inevitable for an interracial adoptee to ask: Who am I? Where am I from? Why don’t I look like you? And while these questions used to be answered in ways that ignored their skin color and culture and told them to be color-blind, part of loving your child is seeing and loving the color of their skin and culture. For a child to find and solidify their identity, it all comes back to culture. Your kid should feel proud of where they come from—you’ll still be their parent in the end.